Humza Yousaf: Tories have a structural problem with Islamaphobia

The First Minister called for an investigation into anti-Muslim prejudice in the Conservative Party after an MP was suspended for his comments.

Humza Yousaf: Lee Anderson remark proves structural Islamaphobia in Conservative party STV News

Humza Yousaf has called for an investigation into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party after what he described as “despicable” comments from one of its MPs.

Lee Anderson, who served as deputy chair of the party until last month, claimed on GB News on Friday that “Islamists” had “got control” of London and its Labour mayor Sadiq Khan.

The Ashfield MP later lost the whip – expelling him from the parliamentary party – after he refused to apologise for his comments.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday that his colleague’s remarks were “unacceptable” but denied his party had an issue with anti-Muslim prejudice.

Lee Anderson said you should never apologise if you think you are right because 'to do so would be a sign of weakness'.Getty Images

Speaking to STV News, the Scottish First Minister said the Conservative Party had a “structural” issue with Islamophobia.

Yousaf said: “It’s just a further demonstration of the fact that Islamophobia is normalised, anti-Muslim hatred is normalised.

“And we see it whether it’s, I’m afraid, sometimes in press reports, whether it’s in political discourse or whether it’s in society at large.

“You can look at any of the tweets or social media posts that I put out and you’ll see streams of Islamophobic abuse and the fact an MP thinks it’s acceptable to make any Islamophobic comments, let alone about the Mayor of London is despicable and I think the Conservative Party should be investigating early what I think is structural Islamophobia in the party.”

Anderson has since admitted his words were “clumsy” but doubled down on his criticism of the London mayor.

In a statement released via GB News, where he presents a weekly programme, he said: “If you are wrong, apologising is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.

“But when you think you are right you should never apologise because to do so would be a sign of weakness.”

He said he had made comments “that some people thought were divisive”.

“Politics is divisive and I am just incredibly frustrated about the abject failures of the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.”

He added: “My words may have been clumsy but my words were borne out of sheer frustration at what is happening to our beautiful capital city.”

Cabinet minister Mark Harper suggested Anderson could still return to the party.

There have been some calls to remove Liz Truss from the Tory whip after her comments at a right-wing political conference in the US.UK Parliament

The suspension comes amid a wider row about language used by several senior Tories including Suella Braverman and Liz Truss, the latter of which claimed during the latest leg of her comeback to the political limelight that her efforts to cut taxes were “sabotaged” by “the deep state”.

Her mini-budget, which sparked chaos in the markets, ultimately led to her resignation.

The former prime minister had claimed in her speech that Conservatives are “now operating in what is a hostile environment” and that “left-wing elites” will be “aided and abetted by our enemies in China, Iran and Russia”.

She also sparked criticism after she remained silent during an interview with Steve Bannon in which he hailed far-right figure Tommy Robinson as a “hero”.

Scotland’s First Minister described her language as “dangerous”.

Yousaf told STV News: “She has gone I think from being right wing to frankly indulging in far-right conspiracy.

“I think if I had done what Liz Truss had done, the damage she had done in her short period in office, I think a period of silence would be better from her and reflection would be better from Liz Truss.

“What she is doing speaks of desperation to be relevant but it’s also dangerous I have to say because it seeks to stoke up division when that’s the last thing any of us need or want.”

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